Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Parking Deck Open House Crowd Demands On the Spot Public Hearing – And Gets It

Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center, with the help of newly elected Councilmember Michelle Kennedy, briefly took over the open house held by the City of Greensboro on the two proposed downtown parking decks Tuesday, Dec. 12, but Mayor Nancy Vaughan wrested back control. The open house on the parking decks was held from 4 to 7 p.m. at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. It was not a public hearing and never purported to be a public hearing, but Johnson and his followers wanted it to be a public hearing. The way these city-sponsored open houses...

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City Council Likely to Approve Tanger Construction Contract

If things go according to plan, on Jan. 8, the final stage of a project that began as an idea thrown out by then Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins at a City Council retreat in January 2011 could begin. The City Council is supposed to vote on the contract for construction of the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts next Tuesday, Dec. 19. The low bid on the contract was made by T.A. Loving for $56 million, which is considerably lower than some councilmembers were expecting. If the City Council accepts the bid, the schedule calls for construction to...

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Rhino Shorts: Dec. 14, 2017

Depending on how much you like snow, last week we either dodged a bullet or missed a great opportunity. Saturday the snow was beautiful but the temperature stayed just high enough to keep much from sticking. A couple of degrees colder and we would have had a real snowman, sledding snow, but all we got was the view. I’ll have to check with the woolly worms again because a day of snow in early December, even if it doesn’t stick, seems to indicate a cold winter. ***** At least the Senate election in Alabama is finally over. I can’t imagine how overwhelmed the people of Alabama must be, because even here, where nobody could vote, the coverage appeared to be nonstop. I hope Doug Jones does a good job for his constituents. When he signed up to run, it seemed it was only a question of what Republican would beat him in the general election, but anything can happen in politics, and often it does. ***** The City Council has been pretty quiet for the last few months, which is not unusual in an election year. The councilmembers were understandably distracted by the election. But the first regular meeting of the new council on Tuesday, Dec. 19 is gearing up to be a humdinger. The approval of funding for the two new downtown parking decks is on the agenda....

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Under the Hammer: Dec. 14, 2017

There a lot of different ways to look at the win by Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama, in what has been a safe Republican Senate seat for over two decades. But my take is that you had the Washington swamp take on President Donald John Trump and the swamp won. Look at where the stories about Roy Moore being some kind of weird sexual predator originated – The Washington Post. It was hardball politics. And where do they play hardball politics? In Washington. Remember back when the Republicans were impeaching Bill Clinton? Speaker Newt Gingrich had to step down because at the time he was having an affair with the woman who is now his wife. The second choice for speaker was Bob Livingston, who it was discovered had an affair, and many other Republican members of the House had their infidelities exposed. Does anyone think those stories were unearthed by coincidence? It’s the way the game is played in Washington. Past sins are forgotten as long as you follow the rules. Lately, even for Washington insiders, things have gotten out of hand with accusations. But nobody liked Sen. Al Franken and some folks saw a chance to take him out. I think this election was the swamp – both Republicans and Democrats – sending a message to Trump and his supporters that in Washington they play hardball, and...

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New City Council Doesn’t Waste Time And Wades Into Potentially Hot Water

The new Greensboro City Council was sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 5, among a multitude of thank yous and a major change in the way the City Council does business. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and the eight councilmembers who were elected to four-year terms must be feeling confident because at their first meeting they took away people’s right to speak on non-agenda items at two of the three City Council meetings each month. The speakers from the floor on non-agenda items segment of the meetings, usually referred to as “speakers from the floor,” has been highly controversial in the past....

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Manning to Challenge Budd for Congress

The 2017 election has barely ended and already the 2018 election is getting underway. Tuesday, Dec. 5, the newly elected Greensboro City Council was sworn in and Wednesday, Dec. 6, Democrat Kathy Manning announced she would be running against Republican 13th District Congressman Ted Budd. It appears it won’t be a pretty campaign. Before Manning officially made her announcement, the Ted Budd campaign posted an ad on its website titled “The Real Kathy Manning” Budd’s ad reads, “Kathy Manning is an establishment Democrat who’s worked for decades alongside far-left Democrats including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, John Edwards...

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Under the Hammer: Dec. 7, 2017

Just another indication of the bias of National Public Radio (NPR). A reporter on Monday was talking about what was, at the time, speculation that President Donald John Trump would reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument, which Trump later did. President Barack Obama created the massive federally protected area shortly before leaving office. It was controversial because millions of acres were taken out of circulation. And what made this NPR report so interesting was that the reporter noted that Obama had created the massive national monument but he said there was some question as to whether Trump could reduce the size or not. Really, let’s play fair. Obama was a Democratic president and Trump is a Republican president, but a president who is a Democrat does not have more or less power than a president who is a Republican. If Obama had the power to do something then Trump has the power to undo it. It’s the same with legislative bodies. If the legislature under the Democrats did something then the legislature under the Republicans can undo it, and vice versa. It’s similar to the argument often made that the US Senate can’t do this or that because it would violate the Byrd Rule or any other rule that the Senate has made. First of all, as far as the Byrd Rule goes, it doesn’t seem...

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Rhino Shorts: Dec. 7, 2017

Yvonne Johnson – who has served on the City Council since 1993 except for two years – as usual was surrounded by children and grandchildren when she took the oath of office on Tuesday night, and then she received a surprise. Former City Councilmember and former state Sen. Don Vaughan presented Johnson with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine – North Carolina’s highest civilian honor awarded to her by Gov. Roy Cooper. Now Johnson has the right and privilege to offer the Long Leaf Pine toast any time she chooses. “Here’s to the land of the Long Leaf Pine, The summer land where the sun doth shine, Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great Here’s to ‘down home,’ the Old North State.” ***** At least one new City Councilmember received a gift when she walked into her new office at city hall. District 5 City Councilmember Tammi Thurm said that former District 5 Councilmember Tony Wilkins left her a new bottle of Pepto-Bismol and a new bottle of Tums for her as a gift. ***** Greensboro is holding an open house on the plans for the two new downtown parking decks from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum at 134 S. Elm St. The parking decks represent a new venture for the City of Greensboro....

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Under the Hammer: Nov. 30, 2017

Some people, including most journalists, work better under deadline pressure. Other people freeze up under pressure and can’t make a decision. In the next month we will find out which group the Republicans in the Senate fit into. The first deadline is Dec. 8, when the government supposedly runs out of money and shuts down without the approval to borrow more money. This has continued to the point of absurdity. It would seem the idea was that if Congress had to authorize new borrowing that it might encourage Congress to reduce spending. If that was the idea it hasn’t worked. For the last couple of decades, it has just meant that Congress would fight and argue for a few weeks and then vote to borrow more money because Congress cannot get its spending under control. So, by Dec. 8, Congress has to vote to borrow more money and it would be highly embarrassing for the Republicans if they shut down the government because they can’t agree among themselves. It might actually result in some sanity being infused into the entire system where Congress would stop spending so much money. It’s one of those cases where most sane people agree that Congress cannot continue to spend as much as a trillion dollars more than it has in revenue each year forever, but nobody seems to have the will to make...

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What’s So Green About the Greenway

For months I have watched a small portion of the Downtown Greenway take shape, and since it has opened, I decided to take a walk down the portion of the Greenway that runs along Fisher Avenue from Greene Street to Eugene Street. I don’t know what I expected, but considering how long it had taken the city to build this portion of the Greenway, I think I was expecting marching bands, maybe a moving sidewalk or outdoor cafes full of beautiful people drinking exotic drinks, but what I found was a wide sidewalk where a regular sidewalk had been. The truth is that the Downtown Greenway has great marketing but falls short on delivery. How could anyone be opposed to something called “Greenway”? It’s the only sidewalk in Greensboro with a full-time employee devoted to marketing, and the marketing has been amazingly successful. But marketing aside, the Greenway is a wider-than-usual sidewalk. The project began in 2001, and now, 16 years later, less than a mile of the four-mile wider-than-usual sidewalk project is complete. But don’t let the lack of progress fool you, because the Greenway project is still costing a bundle. The latest estimates are that the total cost of this four-mile wider-than-usual sidewalk around the downtown will be $36 million – or $9 million a mile – to widen the sidewalk. Except because this is a government...

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Rhino Shorts: Nov. 30, 2017

The Greensboro Department of Transportation is holding a workshop from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7 on what to do about Old Battleground Avenue and Cotswald Terrace, an area that has become a mess since the construction of the Outer Loop closed Cotswald Avenue and cut off Old Battleground. Why is this being held now, instead of six months or a year ago? The Outer Loop has been on the books for decades. Cotswald Avenue was constructed as a temporary road because the city knew it would be closed once the Outer Loop was built, so why wasn’t a plan developed before the road was closed and traffic became a problem? A note to those attending: This drop in session is known in some circles as divide and conquer. People look at the options and speak individually with government representatives rather than getting a chance to get together as they would at a public hearing held at one time with everyone interested in one room. This way the city staff gets to present its solution to attendees one on one, and those who don’t agree might never learn that there are many others who agree with them and not with the city staff. ***** Progress North Carolina has sent an invitation to state legislators to attend a town hall meeting on Thursday, Nov. 30 at Temple Emanuel...

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Rhino Shorts: Nov. 23, 2017

Participatory Budgeting – a way for the City Council to give away more money, as if it needed another way – had a huge problem in its first year of operation: People didn’t participate. Less than 100 votes were needed to spend money on some projects. But the clever folks at Participatory Budgeting have found a way to increase the number of voters and make it appear more people are freely participating in this government giveaway. If the voters won’t come to them, they will go to the voters. In the latest attempt to get people to participate, Participatory Budgeting has gone to select high schools, and there they have a captive audience. Students are trained to do what they are told to do. If they are told to vote for a project, they vote for a project. This is a brilliant move to make it look like people are choosing to participate in Participatory Budgeting. Here is another idea to increase participation: Why not go to the Guilford County Jail? It is a captive audience. The folks in there don’t have much to do. They are all over 14 years old, which is the requirement for Participatory Budgeting, though it is not actually enforced. There are many places in town with captive audiences – maybe not as captive as the jail, but where people would be glad for...

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Halt Pretense and Go Pro

Remember back when professional athletes were banned from the Olympics because the Olympics was for amateurs? People said that if the Olympics were opened to professional athletes it would ruin the spirit of the games. But the Olympics was opened to professional athletes and the spirit seems to be much the same. Back when professional athletes were supposedly barred, it meant that many Olympic athletes had to pretend that they were amateurs. Sometimes athletes would get caught and that caused big scandals, but many athletes took payments of some kind under the table and everyone pretended that they were amateurs with no visible means of support. Some countries provided government jobs for athletes that allowed them as much time as they needed to train, but technically they had government jobs so that was acceptable. People said that allowing professional athletes to compete would ruin the Olympics but in fact admitting that many athletes were professionals made the Olympics better because people weren’t forced to lie or hide their incomes. It also allowed the athletes to benefit financially from their years of training. That is what should be done with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Many players in the revenue producing sports get paid – not openly, but they still get paid. Why not admit these players are professionals and be done with the pretense? It didn’t ruin the...

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Under the Hammer: Nov. 23, 2017

I was reading the latest spin from the liberal press and they are quoting some “nonpartisan” group about the tax reform that found that it will cause famine, plagues and swarms of insects to infest the US. Well, not exactly, but if these “nonpartisan” folks thought anyone would believe it, they would float it out there. It is interesting that according to the mainstream media there are only two kinds of groups – nonpartisan and conservative. Just like when liberal became a bad word and even the most liberal politician became a moderate, now there seems to be no liberal think tanks; according to the mainstream media there are only conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and nonpartisan groups like everyone else. The idea that any of these groups is nonpartisan is like believing that The New York Times and The Washington Post report the news from an unbiased perspective. The New York Times admitted after the election of Donald John Trump that it had allowed its reporters covering the presidential election to put their opinions in what were supposed to be news articles. But even though The New York Times editor admitted allowing opinion in his news pages, people still defend The New York Times as being unbiased. People understand exactly what Trump is saying when he accuses the major media outlets of fake news. The hundreds of...

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Under the Hammer: Nov. 16, 2017

I am tired of reading that the proposed tax cuts will mostly benefit the rich.   Yes, they will. The tax cuts can’t benefit the poor because they don’t pay taxes. Any meaningful tax cut has to benefit the rich. The top 1 percent of income earners in the US pay 38 percent of the taxes; the top 10 percent pay 70 percent of the taxes. If the goal of a tax cut is to put more money back into the private sector then the rich have to get a significant tax cut. If taxes were completely eliminated for 90 percent of the population, that would only cut revenue by 30 percent. The other thing that the mainstream media ignore is that the rich pay the taxes they agree to pay. They aren’t filling out the EZ form and taking the standard deduction. They have teams of accountants and lawyers figuring out how they can pay less in taxes. There are ways for rich people to reduce their taxes that aren’t available to the rest of us. The rich also have far more control over their income than the middle class. They don’t simply get a paycheck with all the deductions taken out; they have all kinds of deferred payments, stock options and the like that allow them to pay less in taxes. ***** Special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s whole investigation...

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Special Master Into Double Bunking

The new redistricting plan for the North Carolina state House and state Senate districts in Guilford County – drawn by the special master appointed by the federal court – have been released. The plan was drawn without consideration for incumbents and may be amended before being submitted to the federal court Dec. 1. Courts are not supposed to be partisan but in this case having lines drawn in a nonpartisan fashion is extremely partisan. One of the huge advantages to being the majority party is that the majority party gets to draw the districts to its own advantage. So for over 100 years the Democrats in North Carolina got to draw the districts to help Democrats get elected, but in 2010, when the Republicans won a majority in districts drawn by the Democrats, the federal courts decided that the Republicans couldn’t draw legal districts. The issue is far more complicated than is presented by the mainstream media because the mainstream media usually report that the federal courts have found that the districts were racially gerrymandered. What the mainstream media don’t usually report is that the US Department of Justice requires North Carolina to racially gerrymander the districts. The state is required to draw a certain number of black majority districts to facilitate electing black representatives and senators. So race has to be a factor in drawing the districts because,...

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City Voting Patterns Less Polarized

The voter turnout for the City Council election last week was about 15 percent, which is terrible and sounds even worse if you say that 85 percent of the voters stayed home. What drives turnout in most election years is the top of the ticket. In this case that would be the mayor’s race, and Mayor Nancy Vaughan won with over 67 percent of the vote over Diane Moffett, a political newcomer who moved to Greensboro the same day she filed to run. There never seemed to be much doubt that Vaughan would win, and without an exciting mayor’s race a lot of voters stayed home. The most interesting part of the returns was the votes that Vaughan received in east Greensboro. As usual the map detailing who won each precinct looked like Greensboro had been sliced right along the line between east and west. But in looking at the precinct returns, Vaughan didn’t win any precincts but she did get a lot of votes in east Greensboro. One question that remains in the mayor’s race is, now that Moffett lost her bid to be mayor of Greensboro, will she sell her house in Jamestown and actually move to Greensboro or will she give up her apartment on North Elm Street and go back to living full time in Jamestown. I’m betting on the latter. The at-large race turned...

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Parking Decks Shuffled Off City Council Agenda

The two new parking decks and hotels planned for downtown Greensboro hit another snag at the Tuesday, Nov. 14 Greensboro City Council meeting. Three of the items concerning the parking decks, priced at $28 million each, were removed from the agenda. As late as Monday morning, Nov. 13, it appeared that the items would be voted on by the City Council. But negotiations with Rocky Scarfone, who owns the Cone Denim Entertainment Center on South Elm Street, which has two easements across the property where the proposed parking deck is to be built, are not complete. The city paid...

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Two New Faces on Nine-Member City Council

For the next four years Greensboro will be run by a City Council made up of eight women and one man. Seven members of the current City Council won reelection easily on Tuesday, Nov. 7, but Michelle Kennedy defeated At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber and Tammi Thurm defeated District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins. Wilkins is the only Republican on the City Council and Barber is its most conservative Democrat, so although most of the City Council is returning, the two new councilmembers will definitely turn the City Council left.   Mayor Mayor Nancy Vaughan easily won her third...

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Under the Hammer: Nov. 9, 2017

It appears that special prosecutor Bob Mueller is doing what federal prosecutors do – they charge somebody at a relatively low level of an organization with a host of crimes and then make a deal to get more information and move up the ladder. Whether or not Paul Manafort plays this game is yet to be seen. But if this isn’t what Mueller is doing, why, when he is supposed to be investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, is he bothering with charges against Manafort for activities that happened long before there was a Trump campaign? And after all this investigating, where is the evidence that there was any collusion at all? The fact that someone associated with the Trump campaign met with a Russian doesn’t prove that there was any collusion to commit a criminal act; and if there was no crime, why is there an investigation? Someone should be asking why Manafort was charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) when John and Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group – who Manafort was working with and who committed the same crime – have not been arrested. Is this a case where when Republicans associated with the Trump campaign do something it is a crime and when Democrats associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign do the same thing it isn’t? Why hasn’t...

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People Vote, Council Shifts

Tuesday night, Nov. 7, Greensboro took a turn to the left, but not as sharp a turn as it appeared might happen in the primary when 38 candidates filed to run, including some of the most radical candidates Greensboro has ever seen in a City Council election. The newly elected City Council has no Republicans and is made up of eight women and one man, and, interestingly, not a single white male. The lone male on the City Council is District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, who is black. It is certainly the first time Greensboro has not had a single white male on the City Council, and Greensboro may be the first major city in North Carolina not to have a white male on the City Council. Perhaps we’re out in front of everyone else. One consideration when looking at the outcome is that Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson and City Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Sharon Hightower, Goldie Wells, Justin Outling and Nancy Hoffmann didn’t face a serious challenge in their reelections. Hoffmann and Vaughan had the closest races and they both won with 67 percent of the vote, which is considered a landslide. So seven of nine members of the City Council were elected by large margins, indicating that the voters are very satisfied with them. But then the two who lost – At-large City...

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Rhino Shorts: Nov. 9, 2017

It wouldn’t be election day without a crisis. Early Tuesday afternoon, due to problems at the substation, two polling places – G04 at Genesis Baptist Church and G05 at Peeler Recreation Center – lost power for the rest of the day. Guilford County Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said that the polling places never closed because the voting machines can operate on battery power for several hours, and during the day it was light enough to work. Generators were rushed over to the precincts as darkness fell and, according to Collicutt, the poll workers were operating with the flashlights in their smart phones until the generators got going. They also brought in outdoor work lights to light up the parking lot. Collicutt said he wanted to have the outdoor lights so that people would know the polls were open when, not just the polling place, but everything in the area was dark. Collicutt said that although some people may have thought the polling place was not open, they had one voter come in who said he wasn’t planning on voting but, with his electricity off, he didn’t have anything better to do. ***** It’s interesting, for the first time News & Record Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson and I could remember, we endorsed almost exactly the same candidates in the City Council election. The only difference was in District 2...

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Under the Hammer: Nov. 2, 2017

How about starting with some good news. Consumer confidence is higher than it has been since 2000. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity. So if consumers are happy the economy clicks along. Economic growth is up over 3 percent for the second straight quarter. Home prices are up, unemployment is down and the stock market continues to hit new highs. But the really good news is that this is all before the major tax overhaul that the Republicans in Congress are promising to pass this year, which is projected to cause the economy to take off. One reason the Democrats are so apoplectic about President Donald John Trump is that they know presidents get reelected if the economy is doing well and lose if the economy is doing poorly. Trump has already done what former President Barack Obama was unable to do during his eight years in the White House, which is get the economy going again. Although it may seem like a lot longer, Trump has been in office for less than a year, and he came into office not knowing a whole lot about the job. Even presidents who have long experience in elected office and the federal government say the learning curve for being president is steep and there is nothing to really prepare you for it. Trump continues to learn more...

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Rhino Shorts: Nov. 2, 2017

They say that time flies when you’re having fun and I must be having a blast because I can’t believe it’s November. It seems like a few minutes ago it was May. Next week a new City Council will be elected and then I think the next day is Thanksgiving, Christmas, the next week and then its 2018. I remember when there were about five years between the start of school and Christmas. Now it seems like at most a couple of weeks. ***** The Muse was told that our local pharmacy is closing – the store that most people refer to as the Walgreens on the corner of Lawndale and Cornwallis. We call it Dru-Ace-Macy because at one time it was Drug Palace Pharmacy, and if the lights on all the letters were ever operating, it was on a day I wasn’t driving by. It seemed like the name changed daily as letters came on and off, but the one we liked the best was Dru-Ace-Macy, so that is what we have always called it. Although Rug-Lace-Harm ran a close second. Anyway, there are plenty of other drug stores around, which no doubt is why this one is closing, but it is always sad to see an old friend...

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Get Your City Council Endorsements Here

The 2017 City Council election is historic even before the votes are counted because, for the first time, the mayor and Greensboro city councilmembers will be elected for four-year terms. The next City Council election will be in 2021. Early voting will continue until Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m., and the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7 will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. If you want to vote in an election where your vote really counts, this is a good one because voter turnout in the primary was about 8 percent, and people who claim to...

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Vaughan Leaves Day Job on Eve of Election

The Guilford Green Foundation announced Tuesday, Oct. 31 that Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan would no longer be the Guilford Green executive director as of Wednesday, Nov. 1. It’s a little odd to announce one day that the executive director is leaving the next, but Vaughan said that she had actually stopped working full time about a month ago and the board had simply decided it was time to make the announcement. Vaughan said she had been asked to join the Guilford Green Foundation board as an indication that it was an amicable parting. Certainly, as director of the foundation,...

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Make Your Vote Count By Voting

Back in the summer it looked like this City Council election was going to be boring. A couple of names were popping up on the radar screen but nobody that sounded like they were going to mount much of a campaign. But that assessment turned out to be completely wrong. First of all, by the time filing was over, it seemed everybody in the city with a couple of extra dollars in their pocket had filed to run. The total was 38 candidates – the most ever. And then five dropped out before the primary. Why drop out? Your name is going to be on the ballot anyway. You might as well stay in there and see what happens. In the past, some candidates who refused to campaign have won because the voters didn’t know who they were but they knew they didn’t like that other guy. In the summer it looked like District 2 Councilmember Jamal Fox wouldn’t have any trouble getting reelected, but then love won out over political ambition and Fox decided to move to Portland, Oregon, and get married rather than stay in Greensboro and run for reelection. The City Council got to pick a replacement for Fox and chose former City Councilmember Goldie Wells, who had indicated she would finish out the term but not run for election. “Indicated” is the key word. Wells...

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Greensboro Needs a Barber on City Council

Candidates often say, “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” Which makes me think this may be the most important election of your lifetime for you, but not for me. However, the 2017 Greensboro City Council election is historic, and more important than most. The City Council terms for the first time are four years, which means if the voters believe they made a mistake, they don’t have the option of correcting that mistake in two years. The next City Council election will be in 2021, which sounds like a long way away. Greensboro is poised for a period of long overdue growth. Other cities in North Carolina have experienced far more growth than Greensboro in the past 10 years, but currently Greensboro has everything in place to take off, and what the city desperately needs is an engine to fuel that growth – and that means jobs. In this election, Greensboro can either choose to continue on the path we are on, which has a good chance of attracting the kind of industry Greensboro needs to provide that growth, or Greensboro can take a sharp turn to the left, which means taxes will skyrocket and industry will look elsewhere. Going forward, Greensboro needs At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber for four more years. The long term makes the reelection of Barber even more of a necessity for...

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Readers Digest Version of Candidates’ Forums

The City Council candidates have had a plethora of forums in the past week. Rather than write about each one, I’ve taken some of the comments made at three forums and combined them together.   Mayor In the mayor’s race, Mayor Nancy Vaughan talks about her service to the community as a city councilmember for eight years, then as mayor for four, as well as serving on a long list of civic boards and commissions including the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, which is of particular note with all the emphasis on development in the airport area. Mayoral candidate Diane...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 26, 2017

The “It’s Finally Fall” Schmoozefest is 6 to 8 p.m., Oct. 26 at Rue-Bar, 318 N. Elm St. in downtown Greensboro. For those who sign in and wear a name tag, there will be free beer, wine and snacks while they last. ***** Imagine for a moment you are trying to help a millennial who has been living in his parents’ basement since he graduated from college five years ago and has never worked. You ask him how his job hunt is going and he tells you that he heard Cone Health was looking for a new CEO, so he has applied for the job and is now waiting to hear if he got it. You ask, just to make certain, and find out that, no, he doesn’t have any background in medicine, administration or business. His degree is in sociology and his only job since college has been part-time, working for a caterer who is one of his mother’s friends. So you ask why he thinks he can start right at the top of one of the largest employers in Greensboro in a field that takes considerable expertise. He tells you that applying for the job was a good experience and he did a very neat job with the application. He filled in all the blanks and is pretty certain he will be considered because he is young,...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 26, 2017

After years of debate over creating the position, and months of looking for the right person to fill it, Guilford County has finally chosen a public relations specialist dedicated to handling the press, interacting with the public, making announcements for Guilford County – and, more generally, putting a positive spin on county actions and missteps. For that challenging job, Guilford County has selected Worley Smith. The county hired Smith away from the City of High Point, where he was serving as a communications specialist in the Communications & Public Engagement department. In his new position with Guilford County, Smith will have the same title – “communications specialist” – but he’ll have broader duties than he did at his previous job. Smith will work in the Guilford County clerk to the board’s office under Clerk to the Board Robin Keller at a starting salary of $60,000 a year. Worley said he’s delighted about the new opportunity and that he’s eager to explore ways for the county to enhance its communication with the public. “This is an opportunity to advance my career and, also, I am moving closer to home,” said Worley, who lives in Greensboro but has commuted to High Point for the last two years. He said Guilford County’s social media efforts will be one point of emphasis for him. “There is an opportunity to brush up on social...

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District 2 City Council Candidate Jim Kee Joins Republican Party Mid Campaign

Politics is full of surprises. District 2 Greensboro City Council candidate Jim Kee changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The City Council races are nonpartisan, but the political affiliation of the candidates is considered a factor in the races. Kee said that the timing for his party switch may not have been the best, but he added, “Basically all my support has come from Republicans in every campaign I’ve run. I’ve been meeting with Republicans and they said, we’ve been supporting you and you have conservative views but you aren’t a Republican.” He...

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Candidates’ Forums Busting Out All Over

This is City Council candidates’ forum season, with four scheduled this week. Tuesday, Oct. 17, the League of Women Voters and the News & Record held a forum for mayoral and at-large candidates in the main hall and then held mini-forums for each district in separate rooms. A couple hundred people attended, which is a huge crowd for a candidates’ forum. Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who won the primary with over 61 percent of the vote, and Diane Moffett, who finished second with 22 percent, each answered questions from moderator Bill O’Neil of WXII 12 News. Vaughan talked about what...

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City Council Takes Up Uber, Sister Cities

At the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17, representatives of Blue Bird Taxi complained about competition from Uber. The Washington Post on Wednesday, Oct. 18 ran a front-page article about the fight between Uber and London taxi companies. City Councilmember Mike Barber noted at the meeting that this was an issue that was not unique to Greensboro but was being raised all over the country. With Uber, the passenger uses an app on their smart phone to contact the company, giving them their location and the time they want to be picked up. Uber responds with an...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 19, 2017

The Rockingham County commissioners voted unanimously this week to ask the state to allow Rockingham County to place public notices on its own website instead of being forced by state law to buy ads in a paid circulation newspaper. The county commissioners said that over 95 percent of the people in Rockingham County had access to the internet, which was far higher than the number that subscribe to the newspapers. The commissioners also noted it would save them about $28,000 a year. The law recently passed by the state legislature allowing public notices to be placed on the county’s website, as well as in paid circulation newspapers, only applied to Guilford County. So our neighbor to the north liked what it saw and wants to join Guilford County in admitting that the way people get information has changed. County budgets are tight and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners supported the original bill to make the change to allow electronic notices statewide. It seems likely that other counties will also request the legislation. It will be an interesting fight to see how long the paid circulation newspaper lobby can keep its monopoly on public notices. ***** Maybe I’m not as smart as most people when it comes to signs and directions, but I don’t have any trouble getting to the airport in Charlotte, Raleigh or St. Louis, Missouri...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 19, 2017

It’s funny when the shoe is on the other foot. When former President Barack Obama used executive orders to implement policies that he couldn’t get through Congress, the Democrats and its public relations arm – the mainstream media – said it was a brilliant use of presidential power. The Republicans said that Obama thought he was a dictator and had overstepped his authority. Now President Donald John Trump is using executive orders to do what Congress won’t do. The Democrats and the mainstream media are apoplectic and accuse Trump of overstepping his power. The Republicans are, of course, divided. Some side with the Democrats that Trump is behaving irresponsibly, but others applaud his actions. With Obamacare, Trump gave Congress plenty of time to repeal or replace it and Congress failed to do anything, so Trump has now signed the death warrant for Obamacare. When Trump was elected he didn’t seem to realize that his biggest opposition in Washington would come from the Republican-controlled Congress. Trump seemed to assume, as did most people, that the Republicans would put the election, where they didn’t support Trump, behind them and work with the new Republican president. It took Trump about six months to realize that it was senseless to try and work with Congress because the incompetence level of the current Congress cannot be exaggerated. So Trump has forged a different path....

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Primary Thoughts

The Greensboro City Council faced challengers from the left and the right in the primary on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Democracy Greensboro, one of the increasing number of organizations that have been spawned by Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center, developed a platform, held a candidates’ forum and ranked candidates. Two of the candidates who ran work for Nelson Johnson, but neither made it through the primary. The Guilford County Republican Party, which in the past has largely stayed out of City Council elections, tried to get involved. The GOP didn’t recruit candidates, but it worked for the candidates who filed to run who registered as Republicans, and that didn’t work out too well. District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who has won in the past without much help from the Republican Party, is the only Republican who made it through the primary and will be on the ballot in November. Democracy Greensboro faired slightly better. In the at-large race, both David Wils, who participated in the Democracy Greensboro forum, and Michelle Kennedy, who received its highest ranking from Democracy Greensboro in the at-large race, finished in the top six. In the District 4 race, Gary Kenton, one of the founders of Democracy Greensboro, made it through the primary but, because the third candidate dropped out of the race, the primary was a formality. In District 2, C.J. Brinson,...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 12, 2017

It seemed odd when Steve Bannon left the White House because he was President Donald John Trump’s idea man during the campaign. But now Bannon has revealed why he left the White House and went back to Breitbart. He says he’s putting together a coalition to go after every sitting Republican senator with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz, and it appears he means it. Trump won with the support of people who wanted him to go to Washington and drain the swamp, meaning get rid of the entrenched bureaucracy that is there, including the elected officials whose loyalty is to Washington, not to their own constituents. The Senate controlled by Republicans has proven to be Trump’s biggest enemy. But if Alabama is any indication of what Trump supporters want, then the Republican senators should be worried about Bannon because usually when the big national committees get involved in a race they get what they want. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spearheaded sending $32 million to Sen. Luther Strange to get him elected to continue to serve in the Senate because McConnell knew that Strange was on his team and Roy Moore was not. Moore overwhelmingly won the Republican primary. The Republicans in the Senate should sit up and take notice because Trump knows, and Bannon knows, that there is more than one way to get a bill through...

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Elected Officials Like North Carolina-Style Tax Reform for the Federal Government

Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker and 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, who both represent parts of Greensboro, held a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to talk about the Republican tax reform plan, and how tax reform plans, if done properly, will pay for themselves without spending cuts, as was done by the Republican-led General Assembly in North Carolina. The press conference was at the Piedmont Triad International Airport and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, state Sen. Rick Gunn from Alamance County and state House majority whip Rep. Jon Hardister all spoke. Walker and Budd talked about the...

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With Monopoly At Risk, N&R Lashes Out

The News & Record on Wednesday, Oct. 4 blamed state Sen. Trudy Wade for just about everything except the flu pandemic of 1918 and Hurricane Hazel. But that’s what happens when you mess with someone’s pocketbook, or in this case a newspaper’s state-mandated monopoly, which is exactly what the state is getting ready to do. State Sen. Trudy Wade sponsored a bill that originally would have taken away the monopoly that paid circulation newspapers have on advertising required by state law, such as notices about public hearings and, by attorneys, for foreclosures, divorces and such. During the legislative session, the area the bill would affect was reduced to a pilot program for Guilford County, and that was passed by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper. In this session the bill is on the agenda to be introduced as a local bill and the governor cannot veto local bills. The bill would allow Guilford County to establish a portion of its website for government required advertising and also make it legal to run ads in newspapers with a limited number of paid subscribers, like the Rhino Times. The N&R doesn’t bother to explain why the state should require attorneys and governments to advertise in paid circulation newspapers like their own. The N&R does make the claim that more people see ads placed by the government and attorneys in...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 5, 2017

From what I’ve been reading, the Republicans in Congress don’t understand what kind of tax reform Americans want. Americans want the kind of tax reform where they pay less in total taxes, not more, or the same but divided up differently. For instance, if the rate is lowered but taxpayers don’t get to deduct state and local taxes, and they end up paying more, who cares that the rate is lower. The more I read about how the Republicans are lowering the taxes by raising the lowest rate from 10 percent to 12 percent, but increasing the standard deduction, the more I think they are simply playing with numbers. It’s beginning to sound more and more like Obamacare, which was going to lower the cost of healthcare insurance. Or how about the repeal of Obamacare, which Republicans talked about for seven years and then couldn’t find the votes to pass. If the Republicans were really talking about tax reform where the people paid less of their money to the government, then they would also have to be talking about spending cuts; but where are the spending cuts? If the rates are lowered so that the federal government starts borrowing more, that doesn’t sound like a good solution either. No one is going to understand this tax reform any more than the current tax code. It sounds like they are...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 5, 2017

In the article last week headlined “High Point Wanted Yes or No on Baseball Stadium Money, County Gave Strong Maybe,” we got some folks confused. A part of the article states that Grasshopper President Donald Moore had posted favorable comments about the High Point stadium project on Facebook. That is incorrect. Don Moore posted favorable comments on Facebook and Don Moore is no relation to Donald Moore, the president of the Grasshoppers. As far as we know, Donald Moore has not posted any comments about the proposed stadium project on Facebook. It was our mistake and we’d like to apologize to Donald Moore for the confusion. ***** As predicted, the new Rhino Times website did not go live without a few glitches. We hoped to get it up and running on Thursday. It was Monday before everything was worked out. But it’s up now and if you have any problems or suggestions, please let us know. We know there will be some problems but don’t know what they will be or we would have already fixed them. The current e-Edition will come up if you click on the front page below it, even though the front page is not the front page of the most recent edition. But we know about that problem, so it should be fixed soon. ***** President Donald J. Trump will be in Greensboro on...

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2017 City Council Primary Endorsements

Early voting for the Greensboro City Council primary ends on Saturday, Oct. 7 and the primary is Tuesday, Oct. 10. The Rhino Times is endorsing candidates in all the Greensboro City Council races. Regardless of where you live in Greensboro, you can vote in your district race, for three candidates in the at-large race and in the mayor’s race. There are 38 candidates on the ballot, but five candidates in district races dropped out too late to have their names removed from the ballot, so their names are on the ballot but they aren’t running. In District 4, this...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 28, 2017

President Donald John Trump is missing his advisors that Chief of Staff John Kelly ran off. He made a big political mistake in getting involved in the Republican Senate primary in Alabama where Roy Moore, who Trump opposed, won. He should have stayed out, but instead he got in on the wrong side and wasted his time and political capital campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange over Moore. Strange is one of the swamp creatures that Trump said he would run out of Washington. Moore is much more closely aligned with Trump politically. Trump needed the advice of a savvy political consultant who would have advised him that Moore was going to win and there was no good reason to support Strange. It appears that McConnell, or some of his people, talked Trump into it, because McConnell put millions of dollars into the campaign for Strange, who was appointed to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. McConnell wanted Strange because Strange was on the McConnell team. Moore, like Trump, is a loose cannon. You have to hope that Trump struck a deal with McConnell before agreeing to campaign for Strange. Wouldn’t it be great if McConnell promised to resign if Trump campaigned for Strange and Moore won? A deal like that would make it worthwhile, but I haven’t seen any reports of McConnell packing his bags. If Trump supported Strange simply...

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City Council Race Takes Sharp Left

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks immersed in city politics. Usually I’m swimming in politics, but lately it’s been hard to keep my head above water. The City Council election has moved so far left that candidates who would normally be considered liberal are running as the more conservative candidate in the race. The challenge to most incumbent Democrats is coming from the left, not from the right. It seemed like things should be going the other way. The Democrats suffered a big defeat in 2016. They are supposed to spend a couple of years licking their wounds. And I think the Hillary Clinton supporters may be doing just that. But the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the left wing of the party, is energized and organized and they are running for office It took me a while to figure things out, but what has happened on the left is what happened on the right after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. On the right it was called the Tea Party Movement. It was the more conservative Republicans, joined by some who are so conservative they refuse to join the Republican Party. But the far right got organized, held meetings and ran a bunch of candidates for office. Following the 2008 election of Obama, the voters in the City Council elections of 2009 elected a Republican mayor,...

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A Little About A Lot Of Candidates In One Of The More Atypical City Council Elections

In the City Council primary, early voting is underway and the primary is Tuesday, Oct. 10. This has been a different kind of election from the get-go. There are 38 names on the ballot but only 33 candidates – which means five candidates paid their filing fee and filled out the forms to run but then dropped out too late to get their names removed from the ballot. First, the five candidates who dropped out are District 1 Charles Patton, District 2 Felecia Angus and Tim Vincent, District 3 Payton McGarry and District 4 Andrew Belford. So if you...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 21, 2017

President Donald John Trump went to the United Nations and did what you are not supposed to do – he told the truth and he told it in plain, unvarnished language. At the UN, heads of state are supposed to speak in platitudes. The major point of all speeches at the UN is supposed to be about how great the UN is, how it has prevented World War III and made the world a better place. Trump did make some nice comments about the UN, but mostly about what it could be, not what it is, which is one of the most bureaucratic and inefficient organizations the world has ever seen. Trump said standing in front of the General Assembly what others have only said in private: What sense does a Human Rights Commission make if you put some of the world’s worst human rights violators on the commission to protect human rights? Calling North Korean president Kim Jong Un “Rocketman” in a speech at the UN, with the North Korean delegation sitting right there, was nothing short of brilliant. What Kim wants more than anything is legitimacy. He wants North Korea to be recognized as one of the world’s great powers because it has joined the club of nuclear nations. What he doesn’t want is to be belittled and made the butt of jokes at the UN. But...

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City Council Says: Just Because You Have a Deed, Doesn’t Mean You Own the Land

Just Because You Have a Deed, Doesn’t Mean You Own the Land By John Hammer The best part of the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, came at the end. It may not have been the most significant action taken, but it was certainly the most interesting, proving that even the most routine real estate transaction can be made interesting by people. The item on the agenda was the formal transfer of some open space and flood plain from the Starmount Company to the City of Greensboro. The 7.8 acres at 605 Way Cross Dr. in Starmount...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 21, 2017

The first Schmoozefest of fall is Thursday, Sept. 28 from 6 to 8 at Lee’s Sports Bar at 2618 Lawndale Dr. in the shopping center across from Target. Free beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be available while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** I watched the video online of the confrontation between the bike cops downtown and some young black men in 2016 that has caused a new controversy. My first reaction was, I don’t want to live in a city where a man can punch or slap a police officer in uniform doing his job and not be arrested. What I saw in the video was police officers being extremely patient with a bunch of unruly guys on the sidewalk in front of a bar where at least one of them had been thrown out. It appears that if one of the group had not decided to hit a police officer, the cops would have moved the group down the street and the whole thing would have been forgotten. In fact, even though the men were arrested, it appears to have been forgotten for a year. My guess is that the guys who were arrested saw people like the Scales brothers and Dejuan Yourse getting paid by the Greensboro City Council and decided to get in that line. ***** At-large...

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Even Behind Closed Doors, Attorneys Can’t Explain The City’s Case Against David Wray

By John Hammer Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Greensboro City Council met in closed session to discuss the lawsuit former Police Chief David Wray filed against the city for legal fees he incurred in defending himself in other lawsuits. Greensboro has a policy dating back to 1980 to pay the legal fees for employees who are sued for actions taken while employees, even if they were at fault. Wray and the city were sued by a number of police officers for racial discrimination. The city has refused to pay Wray’s legal fees because the city claimed he was acting outside...

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